Trade has been a major driver of Africa’s economic growth and receives increasing emphasis in regional and national development plans. Shippers demand high performing corridors that reduce cost and time spent on transport and logistics and increase the reliability and predictability of the corridors. Hence trade facilitation is key to continued trade growth. However, recent studies conducted by World Bank indicates that 75% of the delays in the movements of goods are from trade facilitation and that 25% is attributed to infrastructure. In this regard intra-regional trade, is often hindered by long procedures involved in passing through two sets of identical controls on each side of the border. Lengthy transit times increase the cost of trade and make African businesses less competitive. Given that Africa comprises 54 countries, 16 of which are land-locked, the negative impact of inefficient border controls on Africa’s economy is significant.
Coincide with TICAD VII, where one of the main pillars empathizes on ‘Economic Transformation and Improvement in business environment and Institutions through private investment and innovation’’ shares the same aspirations of AUDA-NEPAD to create an enabling efficient environment to facilitate trade.
To strengthen the development and operations of One Stop Border Post (OSBP), in each Regional Economic Community (REC), ‘’training of trainers (ToT) and data collection seminar for RECs’’ took place in Kigali, Rwanda from 29th to 31st July 2019. The objective of the seminar was for the REC participants to; share knowledge and experiences in the development and operations of OSBPs. The seminar was co-sponsored by African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and hosted by the East Africa Community (EAC).
REC participants were trained on the use of the African Infrastructure Database (AID) as a monitoring tool for infrastructure development in the continent. Hence in order to keep the database up to date, the delegates were requested to populate the data base with updates. This also acted as, a practical training in the use the facilities, ‘Virtual PIDA information Centre (VPIC)’ and AID.
The, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC ), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Union Economique et Monetaire de l’ouest Africaine (UEMOA) and Union du Maghreb Arabe (UMA) were each represented by three experts in the areas of ; infrastructure, customs, and immigration.
Participants had a good perception of the training in general. Most of them were pleased to have been involved, and made the following recommendations;
OSBP procedure manual developed by EAC to be shared amongst the RECs as a model in the process of rolling out the OSBP, cross pollination of knowledge and ideas through benchmarking, pre and post construction monitoring of the OSBP should be part a continuous process in the development and operation of OSBPs, Member states to ensure sustainable supply of utilities such as water, energy to the OBSP to reduce downtime, and AUDA-NEPAD to develop a model designs for OSBP as a continental blueprint.
OSBP plays a critical role in trade facilitation and regional integration. It goes without saying that ToT for RECs, which directly involved in raising awareness for OSBP development in each region, is the most efficient way of disseminating knowledge and sharing experiences. Instead of learning from another part of the world, this seminar reminded us of the knowledge and expertise that the continent has, where each region of the continent can learn from each other. ‘Africa has it all!’